Unleashing Big Data of the Past – Europe builds a Time Machine

The Time Machine Project builds a Large Scale Simulator mapping 2000 years of European History, transforming kilometres of archives and large collections from museums into a digital information system. 


The Time Machine will create advanced AI technologies to make sense of vast amounts of information from complex historical data sets. Image courtesy of Notch Communications

The Time Machine will create advanced AI technologies to make sense of vast amounts of information from complex historical data sets. This will enable the transformation of fragmented data – with content ranging from medieval manuscripts and historical objects to smartphone and satellite images – into useable knowledge for industry. In essence, a large-scale computing and digitisation infrastructure will map Europe’s entire social, cultural and geographical evolution. Considering the unprecedented scale and complexity of the data, The Time Machine’s AI even has the potential to create a strong competitive advantage for Europe in the global AI race.

The European Commission has chosen Time Machine as one of the six proposals retained for preparing large scale research initiatives to be strategically developed in the next decade. €1 million in funding has been granted for preparing the detailed roadmaps of this initiative that aims at extracting and utilising the Big Data of the past. Time Machine foresees to design and implement advanced new digitisation and Artificial Intelligence (AI) technologies to mine Europe’s vast cultural heritage, providing fair and free access to information that will support future scientific and technological developments in Europe.

NAVER LABS Europe is a founding member bringing their scientific expertise in Intelligent Pattern Recognition (IPR) and historical document understanding on the basis of artificial intelligence.Other founding members include Ecole polytechnique fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL)Technische Hochschule WienInternational Centre for Archival ResearchRoyal Netherlands Academy of Arts and SciencesUtrecht UniversityFriedrich-Alexander-Universität Erlangen-NürnbergÉcole nationale des chartesUniversity of BolognaInstitut National de l'Information Géographique et ForestièreUniversiteit van AmsterdamUniwersytet WarszawskiUniversity of LuxembourgBar-Ilan UniversityCa' Foscari University of VeniceUniversity of AntwerpQidenus TechnologiesDelft University of Technology, CNRSNederlands Instituut voor Beeld en GeluidFIZ KarlsruheFraunhofer-GesellschaftGhent UniversityTU Dresden (TUD),  TU DortmundÖsterreichischen NationalbibliothekUbisoft.

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